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Understanding Paternity in Illinois

Posted on in Family Law

Palatine paternity attorneyEstablishing paternity benefits a child by giving him or her the right to receive support from and have a relationship with both parents. However, it is important for parents to understand how Illinois law defines and determines paternity.

What Is Paternity?

Paternity is the identity of a child’s legal father. This is established through the marital status of the parents, a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, a court-ordered DNA test, or adoption. If a woman is married or in a civil union within 300 days before the birth of the child, then her partner is presumed to be the child’s legal father. 

When paternity is established for a child, it gives him or her certain legal benefits based on their legal relationship with both parents, including:

  • Inheritance rights
  • Social Security benefits 
  • Health and life insurance benefits

After establishing paternity, a child support case may be opened to ensure that the child receives financial support that will meet their daily needs. Paternity proceedings may also provide a father with the right to visitation, or parenting time, unless the court orders otherwise. 

Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity

When a child is born in Illinois, and his or her parents are not married or in a civil union, the child’s paternity is not automatically established. This is true for couples who live together or plan to get married. In these cases, a father cannot be added to the birth certificate of a child without a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (VAP). With the help of the hospital staff after the child’s birth, this form can be filled out and filed right away. If parents wish to complete a VAP at a later time, these forms can also be found at:

  • A local child support office
  • Any County Clerk, state or local Registrar, or Department of Human Services offices
  • Online 

If the parents do not sign a VAP form, then a Court Order of Paternity is required to establish paternity. If either parent wishes to retract a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, this must be done within 60 days by filing a Rescission of Denial of Parentage or Rescission of Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity. After 60 days has passed after the effective date of the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity, a reversal cannot be filed. After a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity has been signed, a man can still be held accountable for a child, even if he is not the child’s biological father. 

Contact a Schaumburg Paternity Lawyer

It is not recommended to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity unless you are certain that the alleged father is the child’s actual biological parent. If necessary, a genetic test can be done voluntarily or ordered by the court. If you need legal assistance establishing or contesting paternity, contact a Rolling Meadows family law attorney at Anderson and Associates, P.C. Call our office at 847-995-9999 to schedule an initial consultation.




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